Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Nice Gestures from Skype

Like lots of people with friends and family scattered around the world, video calls via Skype are a really valuable thing to me.  Video calling is the most amazing and useful thing. It's a service that brings near people and events that are far. Age doesn't matter.

I have friends and family that I regularly talk to on Skype that are both young and old alike. United by the discovery of how useful Skype is.  I've had friends show off new babies not yet 24 hours old,  had friends' children show off their drawings / toys / reading skills,  and I've shared all manner of disasters and delights with friends and family.  Skype is responsible for new family vocabulary too: setting up Skype-dates, or Sunday Skype-age as it's become known with my brothers in Australia, are moments in the week I cherish and look forward to, especially now that the latest Skype release permits multi-way calls, and I can voice Skype (at least) where- ever I am via the Android App on my phone.

I love the way that Skype has transformed our expectations of keeping in touch.  I have a South African friend that until recently was living in London, and her 2 year old daughter talked to her grandparents regularly via Skype, and that's what calls meant to her - video, being able to see and talk.  So when one day her Granny was on the (regular) telephone, she clasped the handset to her arm to show her Gran where she'd hurt herself.  In her 2 year old mind calls are visual, it's just those of us with a few more years on the clock that will recall a time when telephones meant calling fixed places, voice to voice only.

Anyway, back to Skype, which suffered a service out-age just before Christmas that had Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree. Personally it didn't affect me at the time, but I understand how frustrating it may have been for others that were.  Full marks therefore to Skype who just sent me an email with a voucher code for Skype-out credit and an apology.   A smart and very nice goodwill gesture that's much appreciated and will no doubt go someway to making those that were miffed feel better, and also encourage trial for those people that have only ever used Skype to Skype calling (which is free), enticing them to use Skype for regular calls.

Good stuff Skype. Nicely done, and nicely timed ahead of the New Year rush to wish friends and family a Happy 2011.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Mums are online a lot ...

Now if I was going by my Mum as my benchmark, I'd be concerned about my future employment prospects - I have to ring or text to alert her about an email I've sent.  Luckily most of my friends who are Mums are rather better digitally adjusted / or even more passionate about the web than some of my other non-Mummy friends. The latter just haven't realised (yet!) what a fantastic range of tools it can provide when you are uber busy.   Just yesterday I found a link to a blog that is full of useful shopping tips for busy Mummy's.

Check out this infographic from Microsoft:

Then,  if you think your friends who are parents or just your parents could do with some techy help, (my generous help desk services only stretching so far..) pootle over and check out this useful teachparentstech site from Google:

Comedy Gold: Technology - The One Ronnie style

Traditions are the things that make Christmas, random things that over the years have become part of family expected and part and parcel of the season for one reason or another: fighting with my Mum to get to the purple Quality Street sweets first, Terry's Chocolate Oranges (and just where can you buy the plain ones this year??),  my brother and I smuggling that random satsuma Father Christmas always put in our stockings back into the fruit dish, and The Two Ronnies on TV or DVD to chuckle at.   I remember one year my Dad and I laughing 'til our sides hurt over a sketch in a 20 something years of the Two Ronnies show entitled the Plumstead Ladies Male Voice Choir. Scriptwriting genius. Just one raised eyebrow for hours afterwards was enough to set us off all over again. I'm sure a glass of port or two helped but....

Sadly Ronnie Barker is no longer around but I am delighted that Ronnie Corbett is still working and making me laugh with his fabulous One Ronnie show on the BBC.

Thanks to my old colleagues at Hyper for sharing this genius sketch, technology explained, Ronnie style.

Mr Corbett,  you are a legend. There's a certain irony that possibly the best tech sketch I have seen all year comes from someone who has just celebrated their 80th birthday. 

And if like me, you believe that there's no such thing as too much comic genius, here's a Plumstead Ladies-esque take on Songs of Praise too. I love, love, love smart observation and great writing.

Happy Christmas. May it be full of fun and laughter.

Meerkat moves into documentaries

Where is this brilliant compare the meerkat/ market campaign going next? After the recent book launch, now it appears Aleksandr the media-mogul is moving into documentary making, the clip below providing a nice round up of the ATL activity over the last two years and teasing of things to come on December 30th. Will Meerkovo become as famous a fictional place as Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross?

Everything they do with this campaign just makes me smile. Nice attention to detail as ever. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

If you are going to send an e-Christmas card do it properly..

I'm still wincing at the thought of the e-Card Publicis London sent last year, so much so that it pains me to link to it, be warned.  But if you are going to go with the chari-dee probable instant forget-ification route this year, or your admittedly reasonable excuse is snow and unreliable postal services, then you had better take a leaf out of the Rodgers & Hammerstein book, and at least do it with seasonal style.  Thanks Bill!

And whilst I on a seasonal theme I might as well post this Digital Xmas Nativity story which was doing the rounds last week:

Laughing my Christmas stockings off

Oh I do love a healthy dose of irreverence, especially from an industry that can excel at navelgazing and self-glorification at times.

Full marks for seasonal cheer to The Quiet Room for their priceless Santa Brand Guidelines document.  Well worth a look at the fine print :-)  (click to enlarge)

2010: finally the year of mobile..

It was a long time coming, but 2010 was finally the year when mobile was taken seriously.  I'm not going to vouch for the accuracy of any of the facts and figures here (must be true it's on the internet, non!?!) but here's a round up video that doesn't thankfully have Fat Boy Slim's Right Here Right Now soundtrack.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Timing is everything...

A few months ago I was writing about Pizza Express doing a great job with timely and relevant offers when the London Underground has been on strike, something they've continued to do a great job of, as the strikes have continued.

Today I woke up to a great example of unfortunate timing:  My Groupon London offer this morning? Discounted Heathrow Express tickets. 

 The principle is a good one given that London has already started emptying out for Christmas but as the view out my kitchen window right now is this....

And the headline on the newspaper this morning this......

One has to question the appeal.  Ooops. Unlucky.  The best made plans of mice and men...

Monday, 13 December 2010

2010 in YouTube videos

Hardly surprising given Google just published the year in search, that YouTube have published the year in video.

So in one morning, I've covered 2010 for Apple / apps, search, Twitter & YouTube.  Surely there'll be Facebook next?

UPDATE: Yep, sure enough here's the Facebook look at 2010

2010 in search, tweets, apps & trends

Google just released their search trend year in review video (note the not very subtle plugs for many of their services along the way) It is worth watching but be warned it's not going to leave you bouncing with joy about 2010.  It seems like it's been a lousy year for many people. Bring on 2011.  They also published the top searches per category. I'm sure Robert Pattinson will be delighted to have scraped in at #10 of the most searched for people, with Justin Bieber taking the #1 slot. 

Meanwhile, Twitter reported that the world sent 25 billion tweets this year (so far),and on average 95 million tweets are sent everyday.  Twitter also published charts of top topics tweeted about in 2010:  Unsurprisingly there's a strong correlation between the Google search rankings and the Tweet charts: iPad dominates in technology and yet again Justin Bieber tops the people charts. (Click here to read how they compiled the charts).

Apple also recently published their top apps of the year. You can check who is downloading what (music, films, podcasts apps) & where (by market) on iTunes charts. Well worth a play, if only for curiosity.

For 2010, Facebook dominates the free download charts and Angry Birds (game) the paid chart.

Crazy but true, this bonkers addictive game tops the paid app charts in UK, US, France, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal & Sweden and is in the top 5 in a further 7 countries: Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Ireland and Germany. In Greece it's number 6, and the only place it doesn't make the Top10 from the published charts is Japan.

You can bet that the Angry Birds soft toys that Rovio are releasing in January will give a welcome boost to the usually quiet January toy market too.

And whilst I'm having a round-up morning, here's the ever brilliant Contagious round up of top trends of 2010.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Where's the traffic to your site coming from??

I know of far too many brands that build sites and then pay scant attention to their site analytics, and so have no idea what's performing, what's not, nor where their traffic is coming from. It means they can't analyse digital traffic driving activity properly (I call this the broken bridge problem), they can't tweak their site to optimise it for natural search because they are operating blind. #Fail.

Interesting to see today's chart of the day from Silicon Insider showing how much traffic is coming from social sites over search engines : The power of social influence? Or just the plain fact that people are spending a lot of time on Facebook, so whether it's by advertising or page activity, if the tab is always open, it's easy to search there too. (Albeit I should caveat for the UK at least, a search on Facebook offers up results via Bing rather than Google if there's no page / group results).

This is obviously a US example, but I suspect the UK picture is much the same.

The sound of social...

Fun spoof song set to "these are a few of my favourite things" from The Sound of Music.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cheesier than a ripe brie: The La Senza Cupsize Choir Christmas Carol

Deck the halls with basques and garters, tra la la la....

I'm sure Christmas and Valentines day are key in La Senza's sales calendar. This is clearly an attempt to getting themselves on the boys' last minute Christmas present radar, which makes a lot of sense, so cheesy as it is in approach I'm going to post their Christmas Choir video. If you are keen to tickle the ivories further (even if C (cup size rather than musical note) is a smudge off key if you try and play a scale) you can do so here....